'Sister, Sister' celeb headlines patch-maker DBV's preapproval peanut allergy push

Peanuts in shell
DBV taps celebrity spokeswoman actress Tia Mowry, whose son is allergic, to raise awareness about family life with peanut allergies. (Pixabay/Riteshman)

Last week, DBV Technologies filed for FDA approval of its Viaskin Peanut allergy patch. Two days later, it launched a new peanut allergy awareness campaign with celebrity spokesperson and well-known twin from TV's "Sister, Sister" Tia Mowry, along with results from a survey it sponsored.

The campaign, “Talking Peanut Allergy,” features Mowry, speaking out for the first time about her 7-year-old son’s peanut allergy. On the campaign website, she talks to kids and parents about how they manage their allergies, and Mowry will appear at events, do media appearances and augment public relations. At the media day launch in New York Oct. 24, Mowry appeared on “Good Morning America” in a DBV-sponsored segment, highlighting the campaign and creating peanut-free snacks. She's also shared her personal stories in online articles in People.com, Today.com and Newsweek. 

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"Avoiding peanuts and the risk of accidental exposure requires constant vigilance. Despite families’ best efforts, avoidance is not 100% foolproof. Even trace amounts of peanut can trigger a severe, life-threatening reaction," said Kevin Trapp, chief commercial officer for DBV Technologies, in an email interview. "As a leader in the food allergy community, DBV Technologies wants to ignite a national conversation around the challenges of living with peanut allergy and educate the broader community on the role we all play as co-protectors in preventing against accidental exposure."

DBV filed a biologics license application on Oct. 22 to the FDA for Viaskin Peanut, a treatment for children ages 4-11 with peanut allergies. The patch product—or epicutaneous immunotherapy delivered directly through the skin—narrowly missed its mark in a phase 3 trial, DBV said last October, although it still showed statistically significant improvement over placebo. The patch bounced back in November with clean safety and compliance data.

Still, it’s a race to be first to market in the category. DBV’s emerging chief competitor Aimmune presented strong data in February from its own phase 3 trial testing the peanut allergy treatment AR101. It's expected to file for FDA approval by the end of the year. There is currently no FDA-approved treatment for peanut allergy, with avoidance the only recourse.

Along with the Mowry-led “Talking Peanut Allergy” campaign, DBV released a survey it sponsored on the impact of peanut allergies on families. More than 500 parents, 300 allergists and pediatricians, and 200 schoolteachers were surveyed. It found that 73% of parents worry about their children being accidentally exposed to peanuts, with 60% reporting stress in their daily lives because of their child’s peanut allergy. Trapp said the study and campaign highlight "the importance of co-protectors who can empathize and educate themselves on the seriousness of having a child with a peanut allergy."

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About 1.5 million children have peanut allergies, with incidence of the allergy on the rise, increasing 21% since 2010. The study did not survey children directly but captured insights from the adults about kids' fears and concerns, Trapp said. For instance, 78% of healthcare providers reported that children with peanut allergy are afraid to try new things because of it, he said.

Mowry said in a statement, “Unless you are a parent living with this situation every day, you don’t realize how difficult it is to avoid peanuts in foods, as even the slightest risk of cross-contact can lead to life-threatening reactions. Normal activities—such as going to school, playdates, eating out at restaurants, or leaving a child with a sitter for date night—present added complications and anxiety for families with a child with peanut allergy.”